A Death In The Gunj is a 2016 Indian drama film written and directed by Konkona Sen Sharma. It features an ensemble cast of Vikrant Massey, Tillotama Shome, Om Puri, Tanuja, Gulshan Devaiah, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh and Ranvir Shorey.
Produced by Ashish Bhatnagar, Vijay Kumar Swami, Raagii Bhatnagar, Abhishek Chaubey, and Honey Trehan under the banners of Studioz IDrream and MacGuffin Pictures, it is Sen Sharma’s directorial debut feature. Principal photography began in February 2016 and was completed in March 2016 after a six-week shoot.
The film released on 2 June 2017 and received eight nominations at the 63rd Filmfare Awards, including Best Film (Critics), Best Actor (Critics) for Massey, Best Supporting Actress for Tillotama Shome and won Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director for Konkona Sen Sharma.
In McCluskieganj, an old Anglo-Indian town in 1979, three men, Nandu, Shutu and Brian, stare at a dead body inside the trunk of their car. They discuss what to do with it. They then drive away from front of a morgue.The film then flashes back to one week earlier.
Nandu, his wife, Bonnie, their daughter, Tani, Bonnie’s friend, Mimi, and his cousin, Shyamal “Shutu,” arrive at Nandu’s parents’ house in McCluskiegunj from Calcutta. Later, Nandu’s friends, Vikram and Brian, arrive. Shutu, who the movie focuses on, is shown to be extremely sensitive and gentle, which often makes him the butt of the jokes and pranks played by his family and friends. He just failed his exams and misses his father greatly, who has recently died. His closest companion in the family is Tani.
As the week goes by, Shutu begins to feel more and more alienated. He is injured in a game of Kabaddi by the aggressive and hot-headed Vikram. He also becomes attracted to Mimi and the two sleep together. Shutu begins to like Mimi, but she isn’t interested in him for anything besides sex, as she is attracted to Vikram. Shutu takes Mimi for a ride on the motorcycle and when they come back, they discover that Tani has run away after Shutu chose spending time with Mimi over her. Shutu is visibly upset by Tani’s disappearance and feels guilty. He and Nandu go to search for her but Shutu accidentally falls into a deep ditch and Nandu leaves without him. Nandu arrives home and sees that Vikram had found Tani safe and sound. The whole family is relieved and for a long time no one notices that Shutu is missing. The servant eventually finds him but Shutu is upset that no one was worried about him. Tani also refuses to talk to him which upsets him further.
The following day Shutu buys a train ticket for home. He tells Mimi that he will be back in Calcutta soon and will surely meet her. She brushes him off and rudely tells him that he should concentrate on his studies. Shutu goes outside where he sees everyone happy in each other’s company. O.P., Nandu’s father, shows him the proper way to shoot a rifle with his very old and rustic rifle while Shutu watches Mimi flirt with Vikram and everyone else looking happy. Feeling invisible, unwanted, and unloved, after a week of quiet unraveling, Shutu forcefully takes the rifle from O.P. and tries to kills himself. It seems as if Shutu has killed himself, however later we see Shutu, Nandu and Brian going somewhere in a car, which could mean the gun misfired and killed someone else (either Vikram or the Servant). However, the director Konkona Sensharma clarifies in an interview that Shutu did kill himself, and that his presence in the backseat is “a ghost or an emotional presence or a memory”.
The movie ends with the beginning scene in which Nandu and Brian drive away with Shutu’s dead body in the trunk and the ghost of Shutu in the backseat. The closing credits show the road behind the moving car from this ghost’s perspective.
Koechlin and Devaiah have important roles in the film.
Vikrant Massey as Shyamal Chatterjee (Shutu)
Ranvir Shorey as Vikramjit Chaudhary
Kalki Koechlin as Mitali (Mimi)
Tillotama Shome as Bonnie Bakshi
Gulshan Devaiah as Nandan Bakshi (Nandu)
Tanuja as Anupama Bakshi, Nandu’s mother
Om Puri as O.P Bakshi, Nandu’s father
Jim Sarbh as Brian McKenzie
Arya Sharma as Tania Bakshi, Nandu’s daughter (Tani)
Aparna Sen as Shutu’s mother
Virginia Vacho as Mrs Curney
Canteen Majid as Mr Curney
Promila Pradhan as Purnima Chaudhary, Vikram’s wife
Ashok Pathak as Mania, Bakshi’s servant
Saraswati Devi Vishwakarma as Manjari, Bakshi’s maid servant
Shimanti Kumari as Manjari’s friend
Chandram Bhagat as Maniya’s friend
Nina Sharma as Mrs McKenzie
Kitty Texeira as Kitty
Uttam Mishra as Post Office clerk